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Souper

Helium-3 vs Thorium?

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Which is the best reactor fuel? (Taking into account startup cost, operational costs, output and environmental friendliness.

 

My money's on He3. It would not only be more ecofriendly but it would also explore more of the moon than we ever had before.

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Isn't that a bit like saying "what's the best fuel for light water reactors? Uranium or coal?"

Of course fusion is better. But we're not even close to self sustained D-T reactions yet, never mind even harder fusion fuel.

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Thorium, or anything else one can burn in a fast-neutron fission reactor... because we actually have working designs for those. Nothing that runs on He3 is anywhere near ready, not even in the lab.

This far-too-common "He3 is the super fuel of the near future, let's mine the moon for it" propaganda actually annoys me somewhat, fusion on a mass production level is still not even guaranteed to be practical, let alone just around the corner, while gen IV & V fission reactors are (relatively) clean, safe, and far, far more efficient than the 1970s tech we're currently running. They're pretty much ready to go too, all that's needed is more funding and less FUD.
Whether it's Thorium or Uranium is also largely irrelevant - it's the reactor design that matters.

Edited by steve_v
Couldn't resist a jab at the He3 crowd ;)

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Keep funding for both fusion and thorium reactors, and leave renewables for private companies because it's already profitable.

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Helium-3 is still a bad choice because the fuel is so rare.  Lithium/Boron + hydrogen is an aneutronic, "clean" fusion fuel that happens to be extremely common.  If we ever have fusion reactors we wouldn't use Helium-3 at all...

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Thorium because we can build a thorium reactor right now. Even if we get a working fusion reactor (not guaranteed, and will take 30 years assuming ITER and DEMO stay on schedule), we might still not figure out a way to make aneutronic fusion (especially He-3 fusion) viable.

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p-b11 > he3

mostly because we can get boron now, in large quantities, without lunar infrastructure and transit system. i do however think he3 will be superior for space applications, assuming you can build a compact reactor system (like helion) and develop isru systems to harvest the he3.

any fusion will be better than any fission in environmental impact.

Edited by Nuke

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